The Modern Table of Nations - Part 8
This page is about the rest of Europe. I have walked the streets of Sicily, Germany and the Netherlands - and I am hungry for more!
More of Eastern Europe
Bulgaria has Bulgarian Orthodox as its majority religion. Sofia is the capital of B. Sofia is called the 2nd oldest city in Europe B's government type is a parliamentary democracy. B has set up a special court to meet the demands for justice against underworld bosses. Dora Gabe is 1 of B's luminaries. She was a Hebrew poetess. The Foundation for the Advancement of Sephardic Studies and Culture says Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire for almost 500 years. Before this, much of the Hebrew population in this region was Greek-speaking Romaniot Hebrews. The madness of WW2 caused the Bulgarians to protect the Hebrews. The peasants of Bulgaria defended their Hebrews. This minority was saved by the King of Bulgaria and his people.
Romania has a happy flag: blue on the left, yellow in the middle, and red on the right. Eastern Orthodox is the main religious game there. Bucharest is the capital. When I see Romania I think of Richard Wurmbrand. He was a Messianic Hebrew who spent 14 years in Communist imprisonment and torture in his native Romania. His book, Christ in the Communist Prisons, is in my top 10 list of best books. His wife Sabina also suffered a similar fate: she was put into prisons, hungry, beaten, working at a canal, throwing heavy stones into rivers. Even though the Communists told her her husband was dead, she refused to believe them and instead listened to the tender voice of Jah. They ended up being reunited and moved to the USA.
Ukraine has the Pripet Marshes (also called Polissya): a waterlogged region in the north. Silver foxes roam their land. Islam in this nation is practiced mainly by the Crimean Tatars. In the 1830's, the Brothers Petrushewych came to what is now called Texas and used their military knowledge in order to get involved in the struggle against Mexico. Frank Petrushewych died in the Battle of Goliad (1835), and his brother Adolph died in a prison, courtesy of the Mexican army. In 1896, some Ukrainians were on their way to Canada by boat when they were persuaded to be shipped instead to Texas. Upon arrival they were rather disconcerted. So, they turned to cotton plantations and the such like and in the process found Polish communities. Bremond, Anderson, Marlin, New Waverly, Schulenburg and Dundee are settlements where they can be found nearby.
Moldova was formerly Bessarabia. They have wild boars. They do have Hebrew communities. Meir Dizengoff, born in Akimovici, was a leader of Hovevei Zion in this nation in the 1880's. HZ = 'Lovers of Zion'. He was sent to Eretz Israel (the Land of Israel) in 1892 to establish a factory. He left Eretz Israel, but then returned in 1905. For those Texans curious about a flight from Dallas to Chisinau, Moldova, cheapoair.com says you could get a flight leaving today (24 January 2012) for $3,108 via American Airlines, transferring to British Midland Airways, then transferring again to Austrian Airways. Just sayin'. And to put that price in perspective, M's estimated GDP per capita (= for each individual person) for 2010 was $2,500. M is still 1 of the poorest nations in Europe. God bless their hearts! However, their flag design is out of this world: it puts forth happy blue, yellow and red colors, with a clean-looking Roman eagle in the middle; the beak holds a cross and the breast bears aurochs head. The aurochs = the ancestor of domestic cattle.
Belarus has a small fraction of the population which follows Judaism. The 1st record of Hebrews in B is in the 1300's of our Common Era. A yeshiva website says Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk was a giant, a leader of the 3rd generation of the Chassidic movement. 80% of B is Eastern Orthodox. The National Bank of Belarus is part of the nation's 2-tier finance system. The bank's website says they are a government agency and are guided by the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (USA's Alexander Hamilton would have loved this!). I like Article 4 of their constitution: 'Democracy in the Republic of Belarus shall be exercised on the basis of diversity...of ideologies. The ideology of political parties, religious or other public associations...may not be made mandatory for citizens.' Dallas has a man of Belarus selling hot dogs near the West End Station; he is nice to talk to. And, I must say, vitebsk.com has a sweet illustration of the city emblem of Vitebsk - it has an image that looks like Jesus, which image the Western world so adores.
The Czech Republic's flag is similar to the Texas flag. The Bohemian Massif covers a major part of the land, and its landscape is rounded, forested and filled with crystalline rock. Crystalline rock is composed of crystallized minerals without glassy matter (as per britannica.com). Bohemia is a part of CR. Apparently, those who lived in B were artists, writers and intellectuals who lifestyle was unconventional. I guess Dallas' own Edie Brickell was so impressed that she named her group the New Bohemians. She and her group came out with a great tune in 1988, 'What I Am' (lyrics: 'Religion is the smile on a dog...is a light in the fog') A staple of CR's diet is sauerkraut soup.
Macedonia is very south of the Czechs. M's flag is awesome (it reminds me of the Arizona flag and looks like a variant flag of Japan - the 'Rising Sun Flag', Japan's military flag). M's flag has a yellow disc in the middle with red and yellow rays going outward. M's biggest religion is Macedonian Orthodox. MO's Archdiocese of Ohrid (in M) has this to say about the church: 'The Church is one. The Lord has not established many churches, but one. And this one Church is identified with the one Body of the one Christ. Still, since this one Church actualises, manifests and iconically portrays herself in the eucharistic community headed by an Episcope, she, in the nature of things, appears as many Churches, because it is inconceivable that there should exist a single eucharistic community for the whole world.' When a person reads Scripture, and then reads what this Orthodox writer wrote, you can see why so many are turned away and confused by the church. The Orthodox, like the Roman Catholics, are hung up on the physicality of the church. By the way, Skopje is the capital of M.
Serbia's main religion is Serbian Orthodox. Their Orthodox' Patriarch Irinej was born in 1930. He attended the Faculty of Orthodox Theology in Belgrade, then went into the army. In 1959 he was ordained to the rank of hieromonk (a priest and monk at the same time). Serbia's capital is Belgrade and their chief of state is President Boris Tadic, a man who was born in Sarajevo in 1958. He is hailed as a fighter for liberty and coupled himself with the anti-communist movement in the 1980's. He was imprisoned several times. He was awarded the European Prize for Political Culture. Ringier reported that the prize was given as a result of Tadic's thoughts, actions, courage and committment. The prize was worth 50,000 Euros.
Kosovo's flag is impressive. It has a yellow map of the land on a blue field, topped with 6 stars. Islam seems to be the prevailing religion. In 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that when K declared independence, it became an oddity in Europe because most of its citizens were Muslim. What is more, K stood out as a pro-American nation and its relations with Israel were superb. K's brand of Islam was said to be possibly the most liberal on the globe. That newspaper's reporter Michael Totten reported that while there he saw alcohol flowing freely and women were in sexy garments. During medieval times, K became the center of a Serbian Empire. K has been transitioning to a market-based economy.
About half of Hungary's religious are Roman Catholic. Budapest is the capital. Budapest is 1 of those cities I dream of seeing in person. I would love to walk down their cultural avenue, and see the Buda Castle District, go across the Chain Bridge and visit the Budapest Danube Corso; let me talk to the locals in Heroes' Square. It is said the most romantic view of Budapest is on the Danube Cruise, on which you can enjoy a 4-course buffet meal: they have desserts like creme caramel with grated strawberry chocolate. Johann Strauss the 2nd immortalized the river in his The Blue Danube; Strauss was an Austrian composer. Saint Stephen's Day is the national holiday (August 20). I recall having a delightful taxi driver from Hungary when I arrived in Frankfurt, Germany.
Slovakia's flag is impressive: white stripe over blue, over red, with a coat of arms bearing the same colors, emblazoned with the Cross of Lorraine. Winston Churchill once said, 'the greatest cross I have ever had to bear was the Cross of Lorraine.' Churchill said that because during WW2 that cross was the symbol of the Free French Forces under General Charles de Gaulle. The way that cross snuck into Slovakia is because the 'Great Moravian king Svatopluk I "passed" it to Zwentibold of Lorraine'. The Vatican's religion is the most popular in this nation. The capital is Bratislava.
The interior of Western Europe
Austria has a traditional costume called the loden coat. They have St Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. Called by the locals Stephansdom, it has been the heart of Vienna for hundreds of years: its roof is gigantic and it the cathedral has a lean tower; the cathedral's bell is used to the new year. Nibelungenlied - an epic - was written in A - it is the Song of the Nibelungs, a poem written in the 1200's. It tells of the betrayal and revenge of the Burgundian royal family. Nibelung is a word of uncertainty; some scholars say it refers to the owners of a hoard (apparently of a hidden supply of wealth). My favorite Austrian is probably Arnold Schwarzenegger: a bodybuilder from a small village who became a Hollywood star and eventually turned Californian politics upside down by becoming the governor of The Golden State.
Liechtenstein has a handsome flag: blue over red, with a full crown in the corner. L decided to add the crown because they did not want their flag to look like Haiti's flag (let us hope this was not a racist gesture or a show of contempt, seeing that L's flag, without the crown, would not have been mistaken as Haiti's). The Vatican's brand of religion is official in L. Vaduz is the capital. The Principality of L was started within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719. L's Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein focuses on contemporary art. The museum presents works from the private collections of the Prince of L. Why do I get this funny feeling that L is a safe haven for Jesuits? The Jesuits - 'God's Marines', as they are fondly called by the Vatican - are a male religious order that worships the teachings of the Vatican: they started out with the intention of reforming the Vatican's fold and to fight the Protestants. When I think of the Jesuits, I am reminded of Acts 20, where non-Catholic believers are warned, 'savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.'
Switzerland is mostly German. S has 26 cantons (administrative divisions). The president is Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, a lawyer who assumed this national position in January 2012. Andreas Keiser tells us Eveline is 55 years old and that she will focus on the main cabinet projects for 2012. My local library showed me that Bern, Switzerland is the city where the 1st recorded Vorster was born (late 1600's) and where he lived. His 1st name was Jan. In 2007, swissinfo.ch informed the world that Swiss Christians and Hebrews were strengthening ties, by signing a joint statement on the importance of getting along. The statement is called the Joint Declaration for the Meaning of Jewish-Christian Cooperation. It involves fighting discrimination arising from religion and includes a call to Muslims in Switzerland to integrate into Swiss society.
Monaco speaks French as its main tongue. The Roman Catholic Church is the prevailing religion. M is a popular resort. Israel has relations with M. This nation has a Sephardic shul called the Association Cultuelle Israelite. It is said that, in 1297, Francois Grimaldi seized M's fortress from an Italian faction. Grimaldi disguised himself as a monk and led an army into the fortress to reclaim it in the pope's name. Evidently, the Italian faction was of Genoa, because the Genoese had built a fortress in M in 1215. Genoa had made an alliance with the Byzantine Empire and this allowed Genoa to expand. Part of this expansion ran into the Grimaldi family. The Byzantine Empire = the Eastern Roman Empire. The Byzantines were an entity that did not sit well with the Roman pope. Pope Innocent the 3rd (innocent my arse!) was the pope of Rome when Genoa built their fortress in M - he was the pope who created the Inquisition (the Vatican's legal way of punishing Hebrews for not believing in Messiah). Pope Boniface the 8th was in charge of Rome when Grimaldi carried out the Vatican's dirty work in M.
The rest of Europe
San Marino ('Saint Marinus') has an exceedingly delicate-looking flag: sky blue bottom, white top; the coat of arms in the middle has 3 white towers on green peaks - the towers represent 3 castles built on Mount Titano: Guaita, Cesta and Montale. SM's nationality is Sammarinese. They speak Italian. A Christian stonecutter called Marinus started a monastery at Mount Titano (I am assuming he was there as a hermit because of an 'insane' woman). It is said he was a life-long bachelor. SM claims to be the world's oldest republic; it is the brainchild of the Vatican. Hebrews there have an almost insignificant history, but during WW2 SM did help the Hebrews who were escaping the Nazis.
Malta's official religion is Roman Catholic. Valletta is the capital. Malta's chief of state is President George Abela. He was born in Qormi in 1948, was educated at the Lyceum and ended up working as a lawyer. By the way, the lyceum is a type of educational institution located in many European countries; the 1 in Malta is a secondary education state-owned school; in the old days, the lyceum was a gym near Athens where Aristotle taught. About 400 years after Aristotle's mid-life crisis, Malta was graced by the presence of the Hebrew emissary Shaul and the islanders showed the Jew boy great kindness. But, God bless their hearts, all that is left of a once Yerushalayim-based religion is now a Rome-based fever, led by Anton Gouder.
The United Kingdom is my other ancestral homeland. The UK's flag is red and white stripes on a blue field. This is the land of my tongue. The UK's elevation extremes are: the lowest point being The Fens, and the highest being Ben Nevis. The Fens are a marshy region in eastern England: fen = a wetland fed by surface water/groundwater; Ben Nevis is located in Scotland, close to the town called Fort William: the name of this high elevation basically comes from the Gaelic words which indicate 'venomous mountain'. The prevailing religion is Christian (mainly represented by Anglicans, Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and Methodists). Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are the main lands of this island kingdom.
Ireland's main religion is Roman Catholic. Dublin is the capital. St Patrick's Day (17 March) is their national holiday. The best books I think I have ever read by an American of Irish descent was written by Frank McCourt. U2 is an enduring band from Dublin that has kept me going over the years. It is said Celtic tribes landed on the island sometime long before the birth of Messiah. Their James Joyce was a writer I have always admired and yet I have had a hard time reading his books. I have tried out experimental language as did he, but not as extreme as he. Joyce was born in 1882. He was educated by Jesuits. He went to Paris and worked as a journalist. He was buried at Fluntern cemetery, in Zurich, Switzerland.
Denmark's main ethnic group is Scandinavian. The top religion there is Evangelical Lutheran. 1 of my favorite writers, Derek Prince, was married to Lydia Christensen, a Danish woman. I read the story of both of their lives while I was in Virginia. Lydia's was very supernatural. An encounter with Messiah caused her to quit her job and go to Yerushalayim in 1927. The vision she carried with her on her journey was fleshed out as she made her new life in the Holy City. She was given the privilege of taking care of children. Her life is a perfect example to me of what it means to live your life in the modern age from prayer to prayer. D is a kingdom. What is odd is that this small nation is in charge of the huge chunk of cold land called Greenland. Greenland's flag looks like it was dropped off by some alien's outside our solar system; but Greenland's coat of arms is cool: a polar bear on a blue shield.
Iceland's flag makes me think of a sweet Xmas present: a red ribbon bordered with white on a blue field. The Lutheran Church of Iceland is the official religion. Reykjavik is the capital. It is the largest community in Iceland. Iceland was settled by Norwegian/Celtic immigrants about 250 years after Muhammad was getting his new religion started in the Arab world. Skuli Magnusson is called the Father of Reykjavik: he created factories in the 1750's.